KEY POINTS

  • Nearly a dozen people in the president's inner circle have tested positive for the coronavirus
  • At least three senators who attended Barrett's announcement tested positive for COVID-19
  • Trump remains quarantined at the White House after a three-day hospital stay that involved aggressive treatment

Even though the Rose Garden announcement of Appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court may have been a coronavirus superspreader event, the White House has no plans to do any contact tracing while Republicans showed recalcitrance over containing the disease.

The New York Times, quoting a White House source, said the administration is only notifying people who came in close contact with President Donald Trump within two days of his diagnosis last Thursday. Trump was hospitalized for three days for COVID-19 and remains under quarantine at the White House. Doctors said it will be a week before they can be confident the president has beaten the virus.

Trump, who has minimized the danger posed by the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans since March, was at it again Tuesday, urging Americans to learn to live with the contagion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the annual flu death toll at 12,000 to 61,000.

Public health officials have said contact tracing is essential to control the spread of COVID-19. Guests at the Sept. 26 Barrett announcement were seated closely together with few wearing face coverings. Videos also showed guests hugging. In addition to Trump, at least three senators, several presidential aides, the head of the Republican party and the first lady are among those who have tested positive for coronavirus in the aftermath of the gathering.

“This is a total abdication of responsibility by the Trump administration,” Dr. Joshua Barocas, a public health expert at Boston University, who has advised the city of Boston on contact tracing, told the New York Times. “The idea that we’re not involving the CDC to do contact tracing at this point seems like a massive public health threat.”

Twitter dubbed the event the "Rose Garden Massacre."

The Times said even the contact tracing the White House is doing is being limited to emails.

Despite the continuing spread of the virus, many Republicans still are following Trump’s lead. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., one of those who attended the Barrett event and later tested positive, on a conservative talk show characterized serious concern over the pandemic constitutes “unjustifiable hysteria.”

“Why do we think we actually can stop the progression of a contagious disease?” he asked, apparently coming down in favor of herd immunity, which requires 70% to 80% of the population to have either had the disease or been vaccinated against it. Currently, less than 10% of the U.S. population is exhibiting immunity.

“From day one, we never should have gone through the shutdowns,” he said, favoring the approach taken by Sweden, which was to learn to live with the virus. “We’ve got to carry on with our lives.”

Nearly three-quarters of Americans disagree, however. An ABC-Ipsos poll released Sunday indicated 72% of Americans say they don’t think the president has shown the appropriate amount of concern and did not take the risk seriously enough. Concern, however, was split along party lines with only 43% of Republicans saying Trump did not take enough precautions compared to 95% of Democrats who said he did not treat the threat seriously enough.